“Throw Away Your Stilettos: Flat Shoes Are Back”: What You Should Wear in 2015:

How closely do you follow fashion? If you like to keep up with the latest trends, you’ll know that London Fashion Week SS15 took place from Friday 12th–Tuesday 19th September – and that the designers, the models and their entourages then moved on to Milan (17th-23rd September) and finally to Paris (26th -1st October). You may have seen some of the “video highlights which – as the London Evening Standard (ES) reported – were screened at 19 central Underground stations,or even joined the crowds in the courtyard of Somerset House, the main LFW location

But who exactly was it for and who benefited most from it? The ES hailed the event – and the simultaneous “showcase” in Oxford Street (“supported by ‘fashion frontiers’ such as Selfridges, Topshop, House of Fraser, Miss Selfridge, Warehouse and Gap”) – as an “extravaganza” which “nutured new talent and celebrated the world’s most venerated influencers”. Caroline Rush, the British Fashion Council (BFC) Chief Executive was quoted by the newspaper as emphasising that “British designers are pushing the boundaries of social and digital media to bring fashion to a wider audience”. The “Guardian” pointed out that the UK fashion sector is booming and is “worth £26 billion this year compared with £21 billion in 2009”.

The “Metro” newspaper, however, was somewhat more sceptical: In its “bluffer’s guide” written by an anonymous “insider” on September 12th, it portrayed the shows and presentations as just part of “ a highly commercial industry attempting to garner some semblance of cultural credibility” and as basically “an opportunity for a gargantuan number of selfies”. A bit harsh, perhaps, though many of those attending the catwalks were indeed taking as many photos of themselves as of the models. As for the catwalks themselves, in the Metro’s opinion, they don’t mean anything anymore, as they “rarely display clothes to be worn in boring old real life”.

The Guardian’s fashion writer, Jess Cartner-Morley, would seem to disagree with this particular view, pointing out (on 13th &17th September) that “flat shoes rule  both on and off the catwalk” and that ”sandals, loafers, espadrilles and trainers are everywhere”, including with the “celebrities” occupying the front row seats. In this context, she also noted that “gone are the days of worrying about how many models will fall flat on their faces as they wobble like baby giraffes in six-inch sandals”.

According to the Metro “insider”, however, very few fashion commentators ever write a bad show review. This is due (so he/she asserts) to “dwindling advertising revenues” and the rule that they shouldn’t “bite the hand that feeds”. They maintain the appearance of “editorial integrity” (the Metro article contends) by developing “a clever lexicon of double-entendres”. The word “ambitious” really means “entirely unwearable” and “clumsy” is a euphemism for “utterly hideous”.

Meanwhile, the fashion commentator Rachel Montague-Ebbs has declared in the “Huffington Post” that she no longer needs “to do all the air-kissing, queuing, standing around waiting for delayed shows to  start”. She now prefers to sit on her sofa at home with her coffee in hand, a notebook and her laptop and watch the catwalks “live-streamed”. That way, she avoids having to “dash across town” to the next event and compete  with the “fashion masses” for a taxi. Even she, however, might acknowledge that following it all on TV is not (as with a football match) quite the same as actually being there, feeling the atmosphere. The prelude to the Unique catwalk on 14th September at the TopShop Show Space  near Kings Cross was, for example, a complete melee: Packs of photographers surrounding the “social media star” Alexa Chung, and the TopShop boss Sir Philip Green,  a bar providing wine, salad boxes, cream donuts and champagne ice-cream, then  finally a stampede for the supposedly allotted seats when the lights were dimmed for the Show. The Guardian enthused the next day about a “Unique collection which could be worn straight from the catwalk”– such as the “satin party dresses with a hint of the twenties”, the silver pleated skirts and the “rocker style high waisted tight black trousers worn with scarlet nipped-in jackets”.

At the start of LFW SS15, the ES noted that 82 designers would be unveiling their collections and that more than 5,000 visitors were expected to attend. On the final day (16th September), the “Irish Examiner” proclaimed that the event had been “full of bold statements. intricate gowns and crazy outfits. It also published its list of 7 OMG (Oh My God!) moments, which included “arts and crafts” from the Latvian-Israeli combination Fyodor Golan, “extraterrestrial” from the  London-based Turkish Cypriot, Nasir Mazhar,  the Henry Holland (from Manchester) “throwback to ‘60’s Flower Power”  – and the VIN + OMI Show at the Cumberland Hotel in Marble Arch, for which the Irish Examiner simply had “ no words”.

The Huffington Post’s  “style & pop culture writer”, Kate Lawson, has described VIN + OMI as “ innovative visual pioneers, unafraid to experiment and create their own unique design codes”. But it wasn’t just the spectacular costumes and the ingenious facial make-up which distinguished their Show as being really special: The models looked as though they were really enjoying themselves, smiling, pouting, even sticking their tongues out at the pack of photographers at the end of the catwalk.

Throughout LFW SS15, there were several booths positioned around the Somerset House courtyard offering “beauty drink”, a “Brazilian concept in 8 flavours researched by the ‘renowned’ Italian laboratory “Farcoderm Tested Wellness” in partnership with the University of Pavia” and which constitutes “the perfect survival accessory to gain beauty from the inside out”. Their brochure asserted that their fridges were supplying over 13,000 bottles to the designer teams, the models backstage and the front row show goers”. The drink (they claim,) results in a “20% reduction in deep wrinkles, 11.6% increase in skin elasticity and a 23% increase in skin firmness”. One of their staff, however, privately confided that you might need to consume at least 20 bottles of the product before you start noticing any significant improvements.




Filed under: Society | Posted on September 26th, 2014 by Colin D Gordon

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